taketimetoshine: (Sam)
Richard Adams - Watership Down
The blurb:Set in England's Downs, a once idyllic rural landscape, this stirring tale of adventure, courage and survival follows a band of very special creatures on their flight from the intrusion of man and the certain destruction of their home. Led by a stouthearted pair of friends, they journey forth from their native Sandleford Warren through the harrowing trials posed by predators and adversaries, to a mysterious promised land and a more perfect society.
My rating: 4/5
Tagged: classics, fantasy, animals, childrens
Date I started this book: 12/05/16
Date I finished this book: 16/05/16

What did I think? I want to read more classic books, and older titles that I feel I should've read, and one of these is Watership Down. I had been aware of the book and film and the basic premise, but didn't realised that it was such an adventure story.

The story begins as young rabbit Fiver has a vision that something terrible to going to happen to the warren, he convinces his brother Hazel to go to the Chief Rabbit and tell him that they need to leave the warren. Hazel is dismissed, but Fiver is so insistent and has had visions before, so he decides that they should leave the warren, taking certain of their trusted friends with them. the Owsla, or council, of the warren find out about this and try to arrest them, but the small band of rabbits is able to escape.

The rest of the first part of the book then describes their journey to finally find a new warren on Watership Down, evading dogs, snares and other suspicious rabbits, but this is by no means the end of the story. Once the band have begun to dig their own warren, Hazel realises that they are going to run into a problem - they are all male rabbits and there are no Does to breed with.

With the help of a seagull, Kehaar, that the rabbits take care of when he is injured, they locate Efrafra and hope to negotiate a peaceful coexistence with them, if some does would like to leave with them, but this is not to the liking of the despotic leader, General Woundwort.

As classics go, Watership Down was not hard to read at all, maybe it's because it's a relatively `modern classic'. It does have some `rabbit language' which can be a bit difficult to decipher, but it's worthwhile to stick with it. What really comes through in the text if Adams' love for the countryside and creatures he is writing about, it's almost a love letter to the English landscape and while seen through the eyes of the rabbits it can be a scary and uncertain place, there is still time in their trek to enjoy their surroundings.
taketimetoshine: (Have The Answer)
I'm not doing very well at posting one of these a day but I'm still working slowly through the questions... I suppose the important thing is that I'm still going, rather than how quickly I get through them.

I'm not sure I can pinpoint a single favourite book but I utterly loved The Famous Five by Enid Blyton. Family, adventures, a dog, picnics, ginger beer... That was the life I wanted as a child and I loved every single things those four children got up to. Looking back at them as an adult, there's a lot of eye-opening and facepalming at what they were allowed to do, but then it was a different time, wasn't it?

I mean, a character called Dick has a completely different connotation nowadays!

Then again, it could be interesting, in the hands of a competent author, to see an updated 21st century version of Julian, Dick, Anne, George, Timmy & their adventures. Purely for curiosities sake.

But, really, nostalgia is where its at
taketimetoshine: (Stitched Heart)
Half-way through the meme and honestly, this was a lot harder than I imagine it would or could be. It's been interesting though, and it's got me blogging on a fairly regular basis so I'm pleased with how well it's working from that respect.

A thought provoking book? Hmmm....
"Big Brother Is Watching You..." It was chilling the first time I read those words and they seem to be more and more fitting as time goes on - much more so than they were in 1984, even more so than 1949.

The world created by Orwell is fascinating and so plausibly and realistically portrayed that I felt, not like I was reading a fictional novel, but a real, non-fiction account of what actually happened in 1984. That’s how believable Orwell’s writing was. I think what may have added to the depth of the dystopian world created in 1984, as opposed to other dystopians I have read, was that there was a solid political background and reasoning given for how things were the way they were.

I found it absolutely fascinating to contemplate some of the concepts of the 1984 world. Could it really be possible to keep a whole population docile by limiting their vocabulary, thus not giving them a means to express any disagreement or dissent? Could it really be possible to effectively wipe out everyone’s memory of the past by continually changing it to fit whatever version of events the government wished to tell? Would people actually accept this? Would they, or the majority at least, remain oblivious to what the government was doing?

This dystopian world that Orwell created is one of the most shocking I have read about, and it is made all the more terrifying by how realistically it is portrayed - and becoming.
taketimetoshine: (Winter Warmth)
I don't even know if I should be admitting to this, but I've never actually read Anne Frank - The Diary Of A Young Girl.

I know the basic idea behind it - who doesn't? - and it sounds so harrowing that I don't know if I could cope. Just the thought of it chills me to the bone and knowing there's not a nice resolution to the family's lives...

World War II isn't one of my favourite eras of history either so I tend to avoid a lot of media surround that time. I'm sure I'm missing out on a lot, I do want to read it but I can't bring myself to read it - I read for pleasure and I can't, I won't, enjoy something set during such a horrific period.
taketimetoshine: (Stitched Heart)
I rambled at length the other day when I'd finished re-reading it about my love for Pride & Prejudice so it feels like a little bit of a cheat, almost, to enthuse about it again. It is true, however, that it is one of my favourite classics - definitely the first one that came to mind when I saw the topic for today.

The other book that springs to mind is Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird. I first read it at school, and still have the copy I had back then, very dog-eared and filled with post-it notes and notes written in margins in pencil (Well I wasn't desecrating a book writing in pen And, despite pulling the book apart to death, I am still in love with the story. It's so powerful.

The basis of the story is the trial of a black man who is accused of raping a white woman, in the deep south in the 1930s, a time and place steeped in racial and class prejudice. It's also the story of a widowed man raising his two children, and it's the dynamic of the Finch family I love. Atticus is one of my favourite literary heroes and I loved being able to watch Jem and Scout growing up, the innocence and empathy that they view the world around them with.

I now feel the need to move the book back up on my to-read pile...

And, for the record, I have no intention on reading Go Set A Watchman. I have numerous issues surrounding the release of the book!
taketimetoshine: (Believe In Love)
Animal Farm by George Orwell

All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.
I first read this in school and it didn't appeal to me in the slightest. World War II political satire featuring animals? Oh yeah, that was going to be so good.

Except that it really was. It was so worth the read, and the more times I've read it and the more I understand about the politics of the era, the more amazing it is.

It is such a simple political allegory to follow! However, the simplicity of the text is not to be criticized, because it actually highlights Orwell's genius! To be able to so concisely write about revolution (with particular reference to the Soviet revolution) and yet make it comprehensible to people of varying reading age/ability, backgrounds, and education is remarkable. This is a story with a point - a warning - about particular aspects of revolution, totalitarianism and fascism, and yet both a 10 year old and a 60 year old can get message through the same enjoyment. Like the book or not, it should be recognized for that great feat at least.

I did enjoy it, a lot. The accompanying appendixes were also interesting - an insight into what Orwell thought about the censorship of his novella at the early stages of publication, and about literary censorship in general - as well as an interesting personal foreword that Orwell wrote for editions for displaced Ukrainians living in camps in Germany.
taketimetoshine: (Make Love Not War)
Jane Austen - Pride & Prejudice
The blurb: "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife."

So begins Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen's witty comedy of manners--one of the most popular novels of all time--that features splendidly civilized sparring between the proud Mr. Darcy and the prejudiced Elizabeth Bennet as they play out their spirited courtship in a series of eighteenth-century drawing-room intrigues.

My rating: 4.5/5
Tagged: classics, romance, literature, british literature
Date I started this book: 07/02/16
Date I finished this book: 10/02/16

What did I think? Classic novel Pride and Prejudice tells the story of Elizabeth Bennett, and her struggle for matrimony in the 19th century north of England. This being the first classic I completed, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Firstly, I have to admit, Austen's writing style and narrative of events has a really nice tone, and offers a broad perspective. Because said narrator is impartial to the transpiring events, one can experience the book broadly, and develop personal opinions of each character, which I really enjoy doing. Furthermore, having a narrator like this makes it so that one can feel as though they are watching the story through a present - but quiet and impartial - character's mind's eye, which really helps to bring the story to life.

Next, I wasn't expecting I would say this, yet I am: Jane Austen is really funny. Frankly, I didn't expect to get the jokes interjected into this book, for they are from a differing era to my own, yet I found myself laughing along with some of the witty comments inserted into the story.

However, I would say there are too many sub-plots. Granted, they all tie together at the end, yet I would have preferred it if the book focused plainly on Elizabeth rather than Elizabeth and every one she's ever known. I found myself wishing the book would circle back around to Elizabeth and Darcy, but sometimes there were some rather big gaps away from the main plot line, which bored me quite a bit.

In comparison, I did really like the characters. Elizabeth is really nice to read about, for she is unlike all of her friends and sisters, and decides it is not a man she needs to live. Also, she likes reading, so what really is there to dislike?

Likewise, Darcy is really fun to read about. I love it when a character is so universally hated, only for the truth to dub them all wrong for prejudicing said character in such a way. This is exactly how it worked for Darcy, and I really loved it. Also, the switch between good/bad Darcy is really sudden, yet really natural, further accentuating the poor lighting the characters and the reader have seen Darcy's personality in, perceiving him not as the man he is, but instead the man he appears to be. In turn, this also offers a good message - do not prejudice! You could be prematurely judging the love of your life!

Overall, I really enjoyed this book, but did - unfortunately - feel as though the pacing was rather slow. There were moments when I found myself feeling rather bored, for the pace had hardly furthered, yet, granted, there were moments in which I was fully enticed by the novel.

June 2016

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